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Whether you’re the person ranting about the environment at every dinner party, or someone who has just joined the KeepCup bandwagon, here are six must-reads that will teach you something about sustainability and inspire you to make small, impactful changes in your own life.
In his memoir, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard reflects on the challenges he faced in his journey to lead what is known as one of the most respected and environmentally responsible clothing brands in the world. An “anti-business businessman”, Chouinard recounts how he strove to work against the unsustainable business model of cheap, fast fashion and create a company that prioritises values of sustainability, fairness and quality over profit.
Quite possibly one of the most important books of the twentieth century (and that’s saying a lot), Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was the launching point of the environmental movement. Carson’s passionate and scathing account of the dangers of the overuse of pesticides on the environment, wildlife and human health led to the banning of the harmful pesticide DTT in the United States and other countries around the world, as well as the creation of laws regulating the protection of the Earth’s land, water and air. Although first published in 1962, Silent Spring is unfortunately still very much relevant today.
Written by The Observer’s ‘Ethical Living’ columnist Lucy Siegle, To Die For is a blazing expose of the largely exploitative and environmentally destructive fashion industry. This book addresses many important questions, such as the difference between the ecological footprint of cotton vs. synthetic fibres, what it’s like to work in a garment factory, how businesses manage to sidestep safety and labor regulations, and why a H&M dress costs just $10. This book will outrage and inspire you to start questioning how your clothes are made and push companies to do better.
If you’ve ever considered going ‘zero-waste’, this book is the perfect tool to help you when first starting out. By reducing your consumption of single-use products and making some tiny lifestyle changes, Anita Vandyke proves you can actually get more in return: more time, and more money. Using 30 golden rules of tips, A Zero Waste Life is a practical guide to changing your daily habits to eliminate plastic from your life in just 30 days.
In Curing Affluenza, Richard Denniss makes a clear distinction between consumerism (the love of buying things that is harmful to the planet) and materialism (the love of things) which can actually be beneficial. Working on the latter notion, Curing Affluenza is a guide to reducing waste and saving the planet by falling back in love with the things you already own – looking after them, repairing them, and then gifting or selling them when we no longer need them.
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything reminds readers that addressing climate change requires so much more than just an individual-level effort to reduce carbon emissions. Drawing on extensive research, Klein argues that creating real change requires an entire rethink of the free-market capitalist systems which brought about the creation of corporations that encourage overconsumption and reap massive profits from the exploitation and pollution of the Earth’s finite resources. Exploring illuminating case studies such the marketing of fracking as a clean energy solution, Klein also takes aim at the ‘greenwashing’ tactics of big business that uses marketing ploys to project a false or exaggerated image of sustainability.
Unlike most sustainability and climate change books that leave you feeling low and powerless about the declining state of the world, Sunlight and Seaweed, by acclaimed Australian scientist Tim Flannery, is a shining beacon of hope. Discussing the exciting and innovative new technologies that are currently being developed to address the most pressing environmental issues, such as climate change, pollution and food production, Flannery shows that all is not lost, as technology might just hold the key to overcoming these massive challenges.
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